If you have ever seen those action flicks of the late ‘90s, you have already seen a shoulder holster in action. Apart from looking downright cool, it is, in fact, a viable way to carry your handgun.
Although they have fallen a bit out of favor over the years, recently, they are starting to make a comeback.And when you think about it, there is nothing wrong with this type of holsters in the first place.
It is not great for concealment sure, but not everybody needs to carry concealed handguns. The draw speed is decent, but most importantly, the comfort you get with this unit is unmatched.
If you are looking for the best shoulder holster, then you came to the right place. In this article, we will give you a thorough rundown of everything you need to know about this device and also review some of the top products in the market.
And considering the wide range of units you can find these days; you need all the help you can get. So, without further ado, let us dive in.
Top 7 Best Shoulder Holster Reviews
A shoulder holster used to be the go-to option for many gun owners simply because of the style factor. Although the hype has died down quite a bit over the years, there are still hundreds, if not thousands, of products floating around the market. However, not all of them offer the best performance.In the following section of the article, we will be looking at some of the best shoulder holsters that you can find that ensures top performance and experience.
1. Aker Leather 101 Comfort-Flex Shoulder Holster
Starting up our list, we will be looking at the high-performance unit by the brand Aker Leather. There are a couple of variants of this product, depending on the type of gun that you are planning to use with it. All of them costs around the same and comes with the same set of features.
Featuring a high-quality genuine full-grain leather construction, the unit is built for your utmost comfort. It features a contoured design that fits snugly along your body, giving you quick and easy access to your firearm. Furthermore, its lightweight nature does not cause any additional fatigue or strain from long time usage.
The unit features a single holster on one side and dual magazine on the other. It comes in a variety of designs specific to the firearm you want to equip, so make sure you check out the list before buying one. Additionally, it has two different models available for left and right-handed users, so make sure to check that out too.It also has two adjustment screws on the strap to help you get the exact fit. For the best experience, make sure you do not wear it too low, as it would cause the gun to wobble in the strap when you are running. It allows for fast drawing, especially when you cross draw. Although it costs a bit extra, its quality is definitely worth it.
2. Bianchi X15 Shoulder Holster – Tan
Up next, we have an excellent vertical shoulder holster by the brand Bianchi. The X15 might be one of the most versatile units out there thanks to its availability in a wide range of sizes. So regardless of your body shape, you can make it work without too much hassle.
The unit features a durable full-grain leather construction. It ensures that the unit remains functional over the years of use without showing any signs of wearing. Furthermore, it is extremely comfortable to wear as it distributes the weight evenly across both shoulders. The plain tan finish also boosts its style significantly.
To adjust the retention, the unit uses an internal tension rod. This design feature allows you to get the perfect retention without sacrificing the draw speed. Additionally, you can adjust the strapping harness easily to accommodate people with up to 48 inches of chest size.It can work with a large variety of firearms from compact Glock models to 1911s. You also have multiple size options to choose from to ensure you get the perfect fit. The design of the unit is extremely secure and comfortable, allowing you to perform rigorous activities like hiking or jogging with your handgun equipped.
3. Gould & Goodrich B804-G17 Gold Line Shoulder Holster
If you want a professional level holster that is widely used in law enforcement, look no further than the B804 by the brand Gould & Goodrich. The unit comes with all the quality upgrades you want with your shoulder holster and then some, making it one of the best investments that you can ever make to carry handguns.
This product caters fully towards the user’s comfort and easy access. It features a vegetable-tanned leather construction that is both durable and comfortable to use. Since most people will likely use it daily, this material choice is extremely handy. It also features a pouch to carry two extra magazines.
To ensure easy access to the ammunition, the pouches are designed to be held upside down. Thanks to the thumb strap design, you can easily adjust the retention of the unit to get the perfect grip on your weapon. Additionally, the wide strap of the holster distributes the weight evenly across your shoulder to reduce the overall stress.After equipping the holster, you can adjust the tightness to reduce swaying when you are moving around. As a result, you can expect a stable experience even when you are running or climbing in rough terrain. Overall, it is an excellent concealed carry holster that is sure to give you a good performance.
4. UTG Deluxe Universal Horizontal Shoulder Holster
The next unit on our list is a universal gun holster by the brand UTG. The brand has been a constant presence in the industry because of its high standards of manufacturing. This specific unit is a deluxe model that comes with all the nifty qualities that you could ever want.
Firstly, the unit uses strong leather material for its construction that accounts for its longevity. To further enhance its performance and durability, it comes with reinforced stitching and seams that prevent wearing and tearing even when you use it without care.
The shoulders of the unit are padded to ensure a comfortable experience even when wearing for a longer period. It can accommodate a large number of body sizes thanks to its fully adjustable nature. You can also use almost all compact to full-sized pistols with the unit without any trouble.
It features an inverted magazine pouch that can hold two extra rounds of ammunition. The inverted design, along with the hoop and loop closure system allows for quicker access to help you get out of a tough spot. It also requires no break-in meaning that you can get a comfortable experience the moment you put it on.
5. Galco Vertical Shoulder Holster System
For the next product, our list, we will be looking at a fantastic product by the brand GalcoGunleather. Although made keeping the needs of law enforcement officials in mind, this unit is suitable for commercial use. However, it does not offer much in the way of concealed carry, so if that is an issue, it might not give you the best results.
The materials used in its construction are quite soft, ensuring a comfortable experience for the wearer. However, this in no way impacts the durability of the product. It features a spider harness to make sure that the holster remains securely positioned when you wear it.
When holstering your weapon, the mouth of the gun points downwards. It is a much safer means of holstering as it does not put the person behind you at risk. In addition, it is more difficult to disarm you by others when the gun is holstered that way. Your firearm will be fully in your control with this holster.One gripe people have with this unit is its concealment. However, the manufacturers themselves do not recommend it for concealed carry. It is more suitable as an open carry holster and, as such, gives you fast access to your handgun the moment you want to equip it.
6. XAegis Shoulder Holster General Vertical Gun Holster
The next product on our list is a nifty little unit by the brand XAegis. It comes in a vertical design and features top grade material selection and quality, which earned itself a rightful place on our reviews. For people looking to find an excellent shoulder holster, it is hard to beat its price.
The unit features a heavy-duty ballistic nylon construction. Not only is it stiff and strong, but it also does not compromise on the comfort of the user in the slightest. It has wear-resistant properties to ensure that it can hold up to long use without any issues. The product also comes with adjustable straps that give you the perfect fit.
Furthermore, the unit can handle most of the firearms in the market that you would want to use with it. As long as the barrel length stays between 3.5 to 5 inches, you can expect your handgun to fit the unit. Tanks to the adjustable double thumb break snaps, the retention of your holstered gun feels excellent.The unit comes with an ambidextrous design and allows you to switch up the pockets easily. One side of the unit holds the holster, while the other comes with a dual magazine pouch. It even offers you decent concealment making it a great choice for people who want to keep discreet.
7. NcSTAR VISM Ambidextrous Horizontal Shoulder Holster
To wrap up our list of reviews, we will be looking at something for the budget spenders. This little-known shoulder holster by NcStar might not be the most popular option out there, but it can handle everything you expect from your investment and then some.
For one thing, the unit features an ambidextrous design. So regardless of your hand preference, you can use it without any hassle. The unit also comes with tie-down straps that let you control the retention to some degree. That is a feature that we do not see in many high-end models.
It also includes a double magazine holder on one side. The magazine holders are inverted, to give you a streamlined experience when you are using it in a high-stress situation. In addition, it includes adjustable thumb break snaps for extra security for your pistols or handguns. The gun holster is even compatible with a wide range of handguns requiring little to no adjustments.For its construction, the manufacturers went with a tough PVC material. Although it is quite lightweight and comfortable to wear, the durability is somewhat questionable because of the material choice. However, as long as you do not use it too roughly, it should serve you well for a decent time.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Shoulder Holster
Choosing a shoulder holster requires a lot of research. You need to worry about a lot of different factors ranging from its material choice to price. Without properly analyzing your own requirements and the specific features of the unit that you want; you will not be able to find the best one for your needs.
To help make the process easier, here are a few factors that you should consider when buying the best shoulder holster.
- Hand Preference
Shoulder holsters can come for either left or right-handed use. So you need to put some thought behind it before investing in a product. If you are a righty, the last thing you want is to end up buying a left-handed unit. Most products have it clearly specified in the product specifications, so make sure you check it out before buying.
A handful of shoulder holsters also come with an ambidextrous design. This means that no matter your hand preference, the design of the unit allows you to use it comfortably. Investing in a unit that does not match your hand preference is generally a decision that you will end up regretting soon.
A good shoulder holster must be adjustable. It is one of the most important things that you have to check before buying it. Without basic adjustment features, you will not be able to get the custom fit for your body size. Either it will be too loose, which will not keep your guns secure, or too stiff, which might feel suffocating.
There are some universal size holsters that you can find on the market, which allows for greater adjustments. Ideally, you want to find the sweet spot where you can feel relaxed while the gun does not sway or move around when you are walking. With good adjustments, you can also run or jump with your shoulder holster.
Safety is also an important factor when you are shopping for any gun holster. For shoulder holsters, you need to check the angle of the gun and its basic safety features to ensure that the holster is safe for use. The trigger guard is also an important safety feature that you should not overlook.
Typically, a shoulder holster is angled at an angle to ensure an easier draw. However, if you want the most safety out of it, look for something that holsters your gun at a 90-degree angle pointing downwards. This angle ensures that no one can snatch the gun from your holster while you maintain all the control.
Retention refers to the strength at which the holster grip your gun when you put it inside. If the retention is too high, you have to pull on the gun harder to get it out. On the other hand, if it is set too low, it might slip while you are walking. Without setting the retention properly, you will not be able to draw the gun efficiently.
With shoulder holsters, you do not have a lot of options to adjust the retention. So when buying the unit, check with a few guns if you can to see how everything holds up. With excessive retention, the holster can even ruin the finish of the handgun, so tread with caution when looking at this feature.
- Cant Angle
Cant angle means the angle at which the gun rests inside the holster when you put it inside. This angle is crucial to any gun holster as it affects the draw speed and also smoothness to some extent. Unfortunately, with shoulder holsters, you rarely get the option to adjust it according to your specification.
So when looking into this type of holsters, you need to be extra careful. Typically you want a slight curve when you are gripping the gun inside the holster. This will allow you to whip it out easier in case of a high-stress situation. However, do not go for units that are fully pointed behind you as it is not very safe for the person standing there.
You must ensure that the shoulder holster you are buying is comfortable to wear. For many people, the prime reason for buying a shoulder holster is the level of comfort that comes with it. If the unit you end up with is uncomfortable, you will soon end up regretting your purchase.
The material and the harness design of the shoulder holster are the two most important elements that contribute to its overall comfort. Spider harness, for instance, is extremely comfortable as it distributes weight across your shoulder and upper backside. Both leather and nylon materials are quite soft and feel good to wear. However, leather often has a break-in period when it feels too stiff.
Generally speaking, a shoulder holster is not a go-to choice if you are going for concealment. The design of this type of gun holster forces you to wear a closed-jacket if you want to truly conceal it. Without an extra garment on top of your cloth, it is difficult to make a shoulder holster discreet.
However, you can find some models in the market that offer you a decent level of concealment when worn under a casual jacket. If you always wear a suit, then concealment will not be an issue. However, for others, you need to look at the overall design of the unit if you want a discreet experience.
- Additional Features
With the essential elements out of the way, you can look for some added features in your shoulder holster to get some extra value out of your purchase. These features are not for everyone, as not everyone can benefit from it. However, they are well worth considering because they add a lot of utility to your unit.
For instance, an extra magazine pouch is one of the more common additional features that can be found in different shoulder holsters. With this addition, you can quickly reload your gun by accessing the ammo right from your holster. Another somewhat niche feature that you can find sometimes is a built-in knife sheathe.
There is no point in buying a new unit if it is not very durable. With a shoulder holster, you want it to last years, not months. If it starts showing signs of wearing within the first couple of months, then you will not get a very long-lasting use out of it.
To get a basic idea of its durability, you should take a look at its construction materials. Usually, shoulder holsters are made using leather or nylon. As a rule of thumb, leather is more durable than nylon but comes at a higher price. If you are going with nylon, make sure the quality is decent enough to last you a good few years.
A typical shoulder holster usually cost a bit more than other types of the holster. And considering the comfort it provides, the extra cost is generally worth paying. That does not mean you cannot buy a shoulder holster if you are on a budget. However, for that, you need to be smart in your investment.
Make sure you figure out your spending limit before you start browsing the market. It would help eliminate most of the high-end units right away, giving you a filter list of units to go through. Then you should crosscheck your price range and the features that come within that range. That way, you can find out the right unit without too much hassle.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Shoulder Holster
Although shoulder holsters are not as popular as they used to be, it holds many benefits over other forms of gun holsters.
To be fair, there are no perfect holsters in the market and there is always a trade-off when going for one over the other.With that being said, here are a few advantages that you get from the best shoulder holsters.
- Can Carry Heavy Weapons
The best thing about shoulder holsters is that they can carry heavier weapons. Since the design of this type of gun holsters allows it to distribute the weight evenly across your shoulder, they are suitable for all day wearing. It is still one of the prime choices for law-enforcement officials.
- Distributes Weight Evenly
It also provides a good balance reducing the sway from your weapon. With a typical OWB handgun, running might be difficult since the gun can jump out of the holster and fall off if the retention is not set properly.
However, with a shoulder holster, it is highly unlikely. For this reason, if you are planning on doing a lot of running or hiking, a shoulder holster is the way to go.
- Comfortable For Anyone
Typically, a shoulder holster is more comfortable to use. Most units are made using softer materials like leather, or nylon to ensure the best experience for your use.
In addition, when you are sitting down, a shoulder holster will not interfere with your drawing or comfort. An IWB holster or an OWB holster can cause discomfort when you are sitting down.
- Extra Space For Magazine
Most shoulder holsters also feature extra pockets to carry ammunition. This feature is extremely handy as you do not need to waste time extracting magazine from your pocket. Some units even feature inverted magazine holders that enables you to draw the magazines faster.
With the advantages out of the way, some of the issues with using a shoulder holster are
- Not Suitable For Concealed Carry
A shoulder holster is not really suitable for concealed carry. Unless you are wearing a jacket over your cloth, you will not be able to keep it out of view. However, for people who regularly wear suits, concealment is not all that difficult.
- Moderate Draw Speed
Despite being an open carry holster, the draw speed is not that impressive with a shoulder holster. Furthermore, you will only be stuck with cross drawing when you are using it.
Other Alternatives to Shoulder Holsters
Now that you have a decent idea of shoulder holsters, you could look into some of the other types of gun holsters. With different holsters, you can expect your comfort and experience to be drastically different. So before settling on a single type, it is good idea to know about the different units available in the market.
Here are a few variants of gun holsters that you can find on the market.
The most commonly used commercial holsters in the market might be IWB holsters. These are a great option for people who want to discreetly carry a handgun with them anywhere. This type of gun holsters attaches to the beltline, or belt using clips and the overhang from your shirt completely concealed the gun when holstered.
However, the main disadvantage of this type of unit is its draw speed. Since the gun stays hidden under your shirt, you need to spend a few extra seconds retrieving it. Re-holstering the weapon also takes some time, especially if the holster does not have any metal or rigid material in its storage location.
OWB holsters or over the waistband holsters are people who want to carry their guns openly. Concealment is not an option with this type of gun holster. For this reason, they have the advantage of a faster draw and a more comfortable overall experience. These types of holsters are typically worn by law enforcement officials.
Since you wear it outside your pants on the strong side, these holsters are also generally more secure. Furthermore, you do not have to struggle as much when re-holstering your weapon. But if you only have a concealed carry license, it is illegal for you to carry your gun this way.
Pocket holsters are another type of concealed carry holster that has gained some popularity over the years. It does not attach to any part of your clothing specifically but instead goes inside your pocket. Typically, it is only suitable for compact handguns.
As you already might have guessed, the main limitation of this type of holster is the gun size. You cannot go with larger handguns as it might not fit the pocket of your pant. The draw speed is also not quite as fast as you would want in a high-stress situation. However, it is a good option for people who just want a way to bring their handgun along with them securely.
Belly Band Holsters
Belly band holsters are an excellent type of IWB holsters, but they offer multiple carry positions and greater comfort. It looks like a waistband and comes with pockets to hold your handgun. The best thing about this type of unit is that they are extremely comfortable.
Additionally, this type of holster can usually handle multiple firearms, which is great if you want to take two or three guns with you. You can even wear a belly band holster on your hip, appendix, or even use it as a shoulder holster. However, the draw speed is severely low even for an IWB holster.
Finally, we have the ankle holster, which is not that popularly used. It is more of a secondary holster rather than a primary one. People often use it in addition to a primary gun OWB gun holster. It goes inside your socks under the pants where it can hold a small and compact handgun.As you might guess, this type of holster is all about the concealment. They are usually made of leather or nylon and extremely lightweight. Drawing the gun from a neutral position is impossible with this holster. Unless you bend down like tying your shoelace, you will have a difficult time retrieving your gun.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to know about using a Shoulder Holster?
A shoulder holster is a simple and straightforward tool. There is not much to know when it comes to handling your firearm when using a shoulder holster. However, for such a simple thing, there are still some basic practices that you should develop to ensure you get a safe and secure experience when using it.
For instance, you should always double-check after you re-holster your weapon. If you are carrying it in a concealed way, you need to make sure that the holster hides away safely behind your jacket. Furthermore, you should properly adjust your holster in a way that allows the easiest access to your gun.
One more thing you should worry about is the size. If you go with a bigger holster, concealment will be a massive issue even when you wear a jacket. Always measure out your body size and shop for a product that fits you perfectly. Going up a size might work for shoes, but it is not a good idea to do that for a gun holster.
How do I break-in a leather shoulder holster?
A common issue when you buy a new shoulder holster made of leather is its stiffness and rigidity. It is natural for leather to be hard at first, but over time, it gets softer and more comfortable to wear. Although it takes time, there are a few things you can do to make the process go faster.
For instance, you should wear it as much as you can. Even when you are doing a house chore, you should be wearing the holster. The more you wear it, the sooner the fibers will get loose, and the better it will fit your overall body shape. Keep it on all the time, and soon it will start to feel smoother and more comfortable.
What type of guns can fit in a shoulder holster?
It depends on two factors; the design of the gun and the design of the shoulder holster itself. Usually, manufacturers of the holster will specify the type of guns or even the specific models of weapons that you can use with it. Some guns also come with recommendations on how you should carry it.
Typically, shoulder holsters can fit any compact to regular sized pistols and handguns without any issues. In some cases, a holster can even hold snub-nosed or sawed-off shotguns. If you are still having trouble figuring out if your gun will fit the holster, it is better to ask a friend who owns one to try out for yourself.
Are shoulder holsters safe?
Yes, they are. In fact, shoulder holsters are one of the safest forms out there as the barrel of the gun does not point anywhere towards your body. If you wear a suit or jacket over your holster, then it can be even safer and concealed. However, the final safety of the holster depends on the user.
You need to maintain all the safety laws when carrying a gun to prevent any accidents with your firearm. If you are worried about people snatching your gun from the holster, it is highly unlikely. But if you are not careful, you could accidentally discharge your weapon while drawing, which is true for any other type of holsters.
Despite what many people may believe, shoulder holsters are a valid and practical way to carry your handgun. Law enforcement officials, even to this day, widely use this tool to carry their handgun securely. If you are careful and responsible with your handgun, concealment is also not very difficult to achieve with this unit.
Last Updated on November 22, 2020 by Ronald K. Smith
Think of me as your gun-obsessed buddy who is great at explaining stuff. I have been shooting and hunting pests and big game animals for quite a long time. It’s time for me to share my knowledge with you guys, fellow gun enthusiasts so that you can level up your gun knowledge. If you are looking for quality firearms resources, you are in the right place.